Chapter profile: WICED of Virginia
Women are not just making a difference in the world today, but in the world of construction as well. They are tackling the challenges of construction management head-on, succeeding in the face of adversity, and demonstrating how collaboration and lasting partnerships can foster effective leadership and quality work.
Just a little more than two years old, the Women in Code Enforcement and Development of Virginia (WICED of VA) chapter is a professional organization promoting the value, recognition and professional development of women in code enforcement and development within the Commonwealth of Virginia through mentoring, education, networking and collaboration.
WICED of VA became the first state chapter of the national WICED organization as well as the first woman-focused International Code Council state chapter in the nation in December 2015. With the support of Virginia’s three existing ICC chapters, the Virginia Building & Code Officials Association (VBCOA), the Virginia Plumbing & Mechanical Inspectors Association (VPMIA), and the Virginia Fire Prevention Association as well as the national WICED chapter, WICED of VA applied for and received recognized ICC chapter status.
The chapter’s inaugural meeting took place on Sept. 15, 2015, during the VBCOA annual conference. The announcement of the new chapter’s formation drew wide interest from many at the conference, with more than 30 people attending the initial meeting. The new emerging chapter introduced its founding board of directors — President Paula Johnson of Prince William County, Vice President Elaine Gall of the University of Virginia, and Secretary and Treasurer Christina Jackson of the city of Norfolk.
“In our first year, membership grew to almost 100 with members representing local government, third-party companies, design firms and students as well as a number of male colleagues. The support we felt as a new organization was wonderful,” said current WICED of VA President Sandra Morris. “VBCOA and VPMIA provided the WICED of VA board with resources that helped us develop our social media presence, provide member outreach opportunities, and mentored the new board through its own development and growth.”
WICED of VA is working to establish a strong membership committed to the professional and leadership development of women in the industry, thus creating potential leaders not only for the chapter but for all the organizations in Virginia. In addition, the chapter’s efforts in professional development and mentoring are aimed at bringing in more women into the code development arena at both a state and national level. In particular, the chapter works to:
- promote mentoring of members through formal and informal mentoring initiatives.
- be dedicated to a process of continuous improvement for the members in a professional networking atmosphere.
- secure a closer official and personal relationship among code developers and code enforcers throughout the state and within the chapter.
- be active members of the International Code Council in the pursuit of uniformity in code interpretation, development, enforcement and administration.
- support, organize and participate in educational seminars and training programs relating to specific needs of women in the arena of code enforcement.
WICED of VA members are heavily involved with the Code Council. Chapter member Cindy Davis, CBO, deputy director of the Division of Building & Fire Regulations for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development serves on the ICC board of directors. ICC Board Director Kris Bridges, building official for the city of Martinsville, Va., serves as a mentor to the WICED of VA board and offers invaluable individual mentoring as well as guidance. And chapter member Teresa Gerber is chair of the ICC Property Maintenance and Housing/ Zoning Exam Development Committee.
“After joining the national WICED and experiencing the peer support, enthusiasm and potential opportunities, we knew the women in code enforcement and development here in Virginia would want this same experience,” Morris said. “We hadn’t had an organization in Virginia dedicated specifically to our development and growth as women in this industry.”
A number of chapter members are actively involved with several Code Council initiatives, including the ICC Technical Training Program — the state of Virginia has the largest number of schools nationwide currently participating in the program — and the annual Building Safety Month event that takes place every year in May. Chapter members are also involved with the new VBCOA Military Families Career Creation Committee that will provide outreach efforts to members of the military and their families in Virginia as well as with Habitat for Humanity. The chapter participated with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and other chapter organizations on the Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg’s first Habitat for Heroes build. The chapter also plans to continue its involvement by participating with the national WICED chapter’s annual volunteer build.
Currently, the chapter is very involved with work on the 2018 ICC Conference Planning Committee. In addition to leading the planning for the popular Bob Fowler Motorcycle Ride, chapter members are volunteering to serve as “ambassadors” during the 2018 ICC Annual Conference. The chapter is encouraging its members to attend the Public Comment Hearings in Richmond, especially urging participation in upcoming mock hearings set up by ICC Region VII. WICED of VA have partnered with VBCOA members in the past for mentoring to gain experience and additional insight into the code development process. Additionally, a recent chapter initiative included leading a voter validation campaign in Virginia to promote or support the jurisdictions in validating their governmental voting members. WICED of VA members conducted outreach, provided training and sometimes even technical support.
“It’s so inspiring to hear about our colleagues’ experiences,” Morris said. “During many of our meetings we have short training segments meant to provide personal reflection and growth. We have time to discuss the challenges of working in this industry and I learn something that helps me in my own professional development from the members’ challenges and their successes. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be part of this new organization and to get to know these women as we all grow individually and collectively.”
Connect with the chapter on Facebook.